The Book Writers – An Interview with Daisy May Johnson
To mark the release of her brand new book, we got a chance to sit down with author Daisy May Johnson to discuss the success of her first book How To Be Brave and the eagerly anticipated How To Be True, which is being released July 7th 2022.
How to Be Brave is a delightfully zany yet heartwarming story about a young girl who bands together with her boarding school friends to find her missing mother.
Tell us about your debut book – How To Be Brave?
While her mum goes off to the Amazon to hunt a mysterious small brown duck, Calla North has to go to boarding school. The School Of The Good Sisters is run by Nuns and teaches the girls useful things like light aircraft maintenance, survival skills, and how to avoid kale at all costs. Not only must Calla come to terms with a school like no other, she’s also got to figure out how to make friends and deal with a headmistress with a very mean streak. And then comes the awful day when Calla’s mum goes missing….
How To Be Brave is my tribute to all of the books I love to read about and the things they featured: boarding school stories, mysteries to be solved, best friends forever, and how to be yourself when all of the world wants you to be somebody else. I loved writing it and I hope you love reading it!
What inspired you to be an author?
I’ve loved to read and write stories all my life. I’ve always been excited by what words can do and how they work – I think they’re some of the nearest thing to magic that we have.
Being an author and getting to work with all that magic on a daily basis was all that I ever wanted. (And also I’d have been really bad at any job that didn’t involve books!).
Which children’s books were your favourites as a child?
I was obsessed with pony books and school stories! I loved the Silver Brumby books by Elynne Mitchell, and anything by the Pullein-Thompson sisters.
In terms of school stories, I devoured the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books by Enid Blyton and adored the Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer (still do!).
Are there any children’s books that you have particularly enjoyed recently?
I loved The Secret Garden On 81st Street by Ivy Noelle Weir and Amber Padilla – a gorgeous comic reimagining of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – and I could read the Adventures On Trains books by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman forever.
As well as being an author you are a librarian. How does working in a library help you share your passion for children’s books?
I love being a librarian because I get to help make readers happen. I get to talk about my passion for books with others – and they get to share their passion for books with me!
It’s so great. It’s the best job. (also, the Summer Reading Challenge is the greatest thing ever!!).
What would you say to a child who is considering visiting their local public library for the first time?
It might feel a little scary or a little strange if you’re going for the first time, but it won’t feel that way for long, I promise. Take your adult with you if you want somebody to help you figure it out or talk to one of the librarians for help and they will look after you.
The one thing to remember is that you are SO welcome! We want you in the library! We LOVE you being there!
Your second book – How To Be True – is being released on July 7th 2022. What can you tell us about it?
How To Be True is all about Edie Berger (who you’ll have already met if you’ve read How To Be Brave!) and her family of revolutionary activists. After her parents go off to to support protestors around the globe, Edie is left to live with her grandmother.
Things do not go well and so Edie is sent off to the School of the Good Sisters. But when a school trip brings Edie and her grandmother back together, it turns out that there’s a mystery to be solved, macarons to be eaten, and a very persistent burglar to be defeated…
I wrote How To Be True during lockdown and it’s a story about friendship, food, and Paris. You’ll find out how to build the perfect barricade, how to abseil off buildings when you need to, and also how to store a biscuit in your sock (carefully). I hope you like it!
Don’t forget to check out Daisy May Johnson and her publisher Pushkin Children’s Books
How To Be True – Written by Daisy May Johnson
Releasing July 7th in paperback with Pushkin Children’s Books
How To Be Brave – Written by Daisy May Johnson
Out Now in paperback with Pushkin Children’s Books
Don’t forget to check out their social media pages for exciting updates and even more.